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Checklists and Measures

The following assessments are intended to help you examine your current well-being and some factors that may contribute to how you experience stressful circumstances. Read over the assessment descriptions to find the topics that may pertain to you.

If you complete an assessment, we recommend that you keep a record of it (which you should date). For assessments that may change over time and with new circumstances, repeat them every few months (2 to 4 months). By keeping completed copies of these measures, you will be able to evaluate your progress over time.

These resources are not intended to replace a clinical assessment. If you believe you are overly stressed or burned out, or that you are suffering from retraumatization, secondary traumatic stress, or difficult feelings of anxiety or depression, you should consider seeking a professional consultation.

Self-Care

Taking care of yourself is an important social work and life skill. We encourage you to start with Developing Your Self-Care Plan for specific self-care assessments. These tools can be used to examine the ways in which you are practicing self-care and the attention you are paying to each of the domains of your life.  

The assessments below are to assist you in understanding various aspects of your well-being. They may also be useful in your work with clients.

Childhood Trauma

Difficult early life experiences may put you at increased risk for retraumatization experiences while working with clients who report their own trauma histories. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study (Felitti et al., 1998) examined the prevalence of childhood abuse and household dysfunction in a large adult sample and found a linear relationship between the number of events experienced as a child and heightened risk of a range of physical, psychological, and social conditions in adulthood. With their brief ten item measure, the ACE Score Calculator, you may calculate your own ACE score by adding up the number of items you endorsed. For more information on the findings of the study see the article by Felitti et al. (1998).

For more information on retraumatization and secondary/vicarious traumatization, please consult the articles under those headings listed in our Self-Care Bibliography.

Stress

The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory is a widely used measure of cumulative life stressors over the preceding year. Higher scores on this measure indicate that you are at increased risk of psychological stress and physical illness.

To assess more recent stressors and stress we have included three other measures:

Where is Your Time Going? can give you a good idea of how you are spending your available time and why there never feels like there is enough of it.

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms lists a range of physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive symptoms that can help you identify when you are becoming stressed.

Are You Stressed? assesses the extent to which you endorse the types of experiences and complaints that stressed people report.

Additionally, the Lifestyle Behaviors checklist can give you an idea of the negative and positive ways in which you typically manage your stress. (If you have worked through the “Developing your Self-Care Plan” section, you may have already completed this measure.)

Burnout and Secondary (Vicarious) Traumatization

“Burnout” is a term that was coined to describe feeling hopeless, fatigued, and overwhelmed from excessive workloads and unsupportive work environments. Completing the brief Are You Burning Out? scale can help you determine whether you are experiencing the complaints commonly associated with burnout.

If you scored highly on the preceding scale or believe that your work with traumatized clients has had lingering effects in your life, consider also completing the Compassion Satisfaction and Fatigue Scale (Stamm, 2009). Burnout is a subscale on this measure, along with secondary traumatic stress (vicarious traumatization), which together can result in what is described as “compassion fatigue.” The scoring instructions and interpretative information for these subscales are provided at the end of the measure. For more information on burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion fatigue please consult the articles under those headings listed in our Self-Care Bibliography.

Compassion Satisfaction

Although work can be stressful at times, it can also be very gratifying and that can be a buffer against stress! In addition to subscales assessing burnout and secondary traumatic stress, the Compassion Satisfaction and Fatigue Scale (Stamm, 2009) also yields a subscale score for “compassion satisfaction,” a construct capturing the pleasure and satisfaction you receive from doing your work well. Check it out.

Aspects of Personality

Different people have different reactions to stressful situations. There is evidence that different personality traits are associated with negative mood and perceptions of stress (e.g., Besser & Shackelford, 2007; Lee-Baggley, Preece, & DeLongis, 205). For a quick and easy assessment of some of the basic dimensions of your personality, complete and score the Brief Big Five Personality Inventory.

The “Big Five” factors and their associated traits include:

  • Openness to Experience – Whether you are inventive and intellectually curious (vs. consistent, cautious, and conventional). Those who are high on this factor tend to appreciate art, adventure, unique ideas and varied experience, and emotions, and are curious and imaginative.
  • Conscientiousness – Whether you are efficient and organized (vs. easy-going and careless). Those high on this factor tend to be self-disciplined, achievement-oriented, and dutiful, and engage in planned rather than spontaneous behavior.
  • Extraversion – Whether you are outgoing and energetic (vs. shy and reserved). Those high on this factor tend to demonstrate sociability, positive emotions, surgency (related to assertiveness, competitiveness, and self-confidence), and are stimulation-seeking in social settings.
  • Agreeableness – Whether you are friendly and compassionate (vs. competitive and outspoken). Those high on this factor tend to be compassionate, considerate, cooperative, optimistic, trusting, and altruistic towards others.
  • Neuroticism – Whether you are sensitive and nervous (vs. secure and confident). Those high on this factor tend to experience unpleasant emotions easily (including anger, anxiety, depression, and/or vulnerability) and be highly reactive and vulnerable to stress.

For More Information

For more information on the five dimensions of personality see:

McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (1987) Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 81-90.

McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (1997) Personality trait structure as a human universal. American Psychologist, 52, 509-516.

McCrae, R. R. & John, O. P. (1992). An introduction to the five-factor model and its applications. Journal of Personality, 60, 175–215.

For more information on stress and personality see:

Besser, A., & Scheckelford, T. K. (2007). Mediation of the effects of the big five personality dimensions on negative mood and confirmed affective expectations by perceived situational stress: A quasi-field study of vacationers. Personality and Individual Differences, 42(7), 1333-1346.

Lee-Baggley, D., Preece, M., & DeLongis, A. (2005). Coping with interpersonal stress: Role of Big Five traits. Journal of Personality 73(5), 1141-1180.

For additional self-care assessments and materials on these and related topics go to the University at Buffalo’s Counseling Center.